The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on legal issues within the Province of Alberta. The purpose of this topic is to inform you of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic reviews the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant when the tenant moves out of rented premises. Rented premises include among others, apartments, houses, duplexes and condominiums. The Alberta Residential Tenancies Act (the “Act”) contains the law with respect to residential tenancies in Alberta and it governs the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants of residential premises.
When you decide to move from your rented premises you may be required to give your landlord notice of your intention to terminate your tenancy. Whether you are required to provide your landlord with such a notice and the length of the notice period depend upon the type of tenancy you have.
- A fixed term tenancy is one where you rent your premises for a certain time period between specified dates. For example, your residential tenancy agreement (hereinafter called the “Agreement”) may be for the fixed term between January 1 and December 31.
- The tenancy may be a periodic tenancy, which means that you rent your premises on a weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis.
- The required notice period also depends upon who is ending the tenancy, you or your landlord.
If you have a fixed term tenancy, the tenancy or Agreement automatically ends on the last day of the fixed term and you are required to move out on or before that day. You are not required to provide your landlord with notice of your intention to move out on the last day of a fixed term tenancy. Similarly, your landlord is not required to provide you with advance notice of when your fixed term tenancy will end, and the landlord is entitled to expect you to vacate your rented premises no later than the last day of the fixed term. If you fail to move out by then, you will be in default under your Agreement and liable to the landlord for any loss or damages the landlord suffers as a result of your failure to move out when required. If you wish to have the landlord provide you with advance written notice that your Agreement will be ending before the last day of the fixed term tenancy, the landlord’s commitment to provide you with such notice should be included in the written Agreement.
If you have a fixed term tenancy, you are required to pay rent throughout the entire fixed term. If you wish to move out before the fixed term tenancy is over, you will still be required to pay rent until the end of the fixed term unless the landlord agrees to another arrangement. If the landlord does agree to another arrangement, ensure that the landlord’s agreement is documented in writing and signed by the landlord. The law requires the landlord to make reasonable efforts to rent the premises even if you break the lease, but if no tenant is found, you will probably have to pay the rent until the fixed term tenancy ends. If for some reason you are required to move from your premises before the end of a fixed term tenancy, with the landlord’s consent you may assign your interest under the Agreement or sublease the premises to someone else. Your landlord may not refuse consent unless the landlord has reasonable grounds for refusal. You will be held responsible for any breach of the Agreement by the person to whom you sublease the premises or assign your interest under the Agreement.
If you have a periodic tenancy and want to end the tenancy, you must provide your landlord with written notice of your intention to terminate the tenancy. Your notice must be signed by you or your agent, identify the premises, and state the date on which your tenancy is to terminate. The length of the notice period depends upon the time period you rent the premises for. For example:
- To terminate a weekly tenancy, written notice must be served on or before the first day of the tenancy week to be effective on the last day of that tenancy week;
- If the periodic tenancy is a monthly tenancy or is more than one week but less than one year, you must provide your landlord with written notice of your intention to terminate the tenancy on or before the first day of a tenancy month to be effective on the last day of that tenancy month; and
- If the notice is to terminate a yearly tenancy, then the notice must be given on or before the 60th day before the last day of the tenancy year.
If the landlord is giving you notice of termination of a periodic tenancy, the notice must be in writing, it must be signed by the landlord or the landlord’s agent, the landlord must provide written reasons for which the tenancy is terminated, and the notice must identify the premises and state the date on which the tenancy is to terminate. The notice period to be provided by the landlord is determined as follows:
- To terminate a weekly tenancy, notice must be served on or before the first day of the tenancy week to be effective on the last day of that tenancy week;
- If the periodic tenancy is on a monthly basis, the notice must be served on the tenant at least three months before the date the tenancy is to terminate and the tenant must move out; and
- If the periodic tenancy is a yearly tenancy, the notice must be given at least 90 days before the end of the tenancy year and when the tenant must move out of the premises.
The landlord must return your security deposit with interest within 10 days of your moving out of the premises. If the landlord does not return your security deposit within 10 days, they must provide a written statement giving reasons for not paying the same. If you owe money for rent, cleaning, damages to the apartment or any other charges with respect to the premises, the landlord will deduct that amount. The landlord must provide a statement of account showing how the deductions were spent. It is an offence for the landlord not to comply with these requirements and there is a fine up to $5,000 for non-compliance. Contact your local office of Alberta Government services if you have not been paid. Disagreements over the deductions made can be resolved by starting an action in the Small Claims court of the Provincial Court.
No deductions are allowed for ‘normal wear and tear.’ Normal wear and tear is deterioration that occurs over time with the use of the premises even though the premises received reasonable care and maintenance.
A tenant’s personal possessions that are abandoned in the premises can be disposed of by the landlord as they see fit, if their total market value is less than $2,000. This also applies to goods that are perishable if stored or if the cost of moving and storage amount to more than their value. If the abandoned goods are worth more than $2,000, the landlord must store the goods for at least 30 days. If the goods are not claimed, the landlord may dispose of the goods by public auction. If no bid is received for the abandoned goods, the landlord may dispose of the goods.
If you refuse to move out at the end of your tenancy, the landlord can get a Court order and have a Civil Enforcement Agency forcibly remove you. The landlord can sue for damages, such as lost rent and the new tenant’s expenses while waiting for you to leave. You must receive Notices of all Court applications so that you are given an opportunity to be heard in Court.
Dial-A-Law is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.